Warren residents Yvonne Carlson and Sam Feeny will be spending their third summer with 8-year-old Janette this summer through The Fresh Air Fund's Volunteer Host Family Program.
"We just love her to pieces," Carlson responded when asked how she felt about her Fresh Air child, Janette. "I think of her now as a distant daughter." In 2012, Yvonne and her partner Sam began hosting Janette for two weeks in the summer after hearing about The Fresh Air Fund's Volunteer Host Program through Yvonne's longtime friend Brenda Whyte, a local volunteer leader for the program.
When Janette comes to Warren each summer, the visit is especially exciting for Yvonne's daughter, Savanna, who is just a year older than Janette. The two play like sisters and love doing outdoor activities together with Yvonne and Sam.
Janette, left, and Savanna
"We rough it," Yvonne says, "and since we live in the middle of the Allegheny National Forest, we spend time camping, boating, and just playing outside when Janette comes." Other activities include going to the local fair to see the farm animals, and visiting their favorite eagle, Liberty, at the Audubon Society. "This is what we normally do," Yvonne says, "so when Janette comes to visit, she's going to experience what we have to offer." And the best part, Yvonne says, is that Janette is "always game for anything
When deciding to sign up to host a Fresh Air child, Yvonne explains that Sam was "very into it" due to his lifelong love of kids and making a difference in their lives. Since their first summer in the program, Sam, Savanna, Yvonne, and even Yvonne's mother, Donna, have looked forward to Janette's visits. As Yvonne puts it, her past two summers as a Fresh Air host have proven to be nothing less than "an experience of a lifetime."
The Fresh Air Fund is always seeking host families to enable as many New York City children as possible to benefit from a summer experience outside of the city. To learn more about how to become a host family in Northwestern Pennsylvania, please call Brenda Whyte at (814) 706-2244 or visit The Fresh Air Fund online at www.freshair.org.
The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Each summer, more than 4,000 children visit volunteer host families in rural, suburban and small town communities across 13 states. Coordinators hope to recruit more dedicated volunteers and hosts for next summer. Call with any questions. Additionally, you can find more information about The Fresh Air Fund online at www.freshair.org.